It’s been about 4 years since Nappy Roots came out with an album. The group is back with “The 40 Akerz Project,” which takes its name from Nappy Roots’ umbrella group, 40 Akerz. You can get it on iTunes now. They have been working on it over the last two years. It started off as an EP, but when they got to 8 tracks they realized it just needed to become an album.
With production from Atlanta-based 808 Blake of SMKA (aka Blake German), the album features Nappy Roots members Fish Scales and Skinny Deville.
This new album shows the growth and evolution of Nappy Roots. They have never seemed as comfortable on a record. It will definitely be your favorite of their work if you take a listen. I had a chance to recently sit down with Skinny Black and Fish Scales of the group to ask them a bit about it, and here’s what they had to say.
How do you feel about this new album?
Skinny Deville: I love it. We spent two years on this album. It started out as an EP Idea. We were very specific in who we wanted to work with, and sought them out. We spent every Tuesday when we got off the road, and once things got done we saw we had 8 songs. And we couldn’t trim that down to 5. We said let’s just go ahead and make an album. And spent the next year and a half making it into an album. This album is different because only 2 members actually on every song.
How have the past 10 years been as an independent act?
Together: It’s a lot of hard work. With a major it’s different because things are taken care of for you. There’s a whole department that has thought of all these things, and there’s a level of experience that they know what works and doesn’t. There’s a team and a budget, and it’s much higher than you have to spend. But as an independent you wake up everyday knowing you’re in control. So if you make the calls those are yours. In the majors there are tons of handshakes and deals going on, but those aren’t yours. Your path is just laid out in front of you. The A&R might work something out with the producer, or the marketing guy might have something set up with a stylist. You’re just like cattle being herded into a spot. As an independent you make all those decision, hire that you want, make your own budgets. On the major they’re spending the money so if you don’t listen you’re just considered hard to work with. We enjoy having control of our own life. On a major if your song isn’t working then they’ll tell you come with something else because they don’t believe in you. As an independent you can keep working that song. We also don’t have that fear of being dropped. We thank God we’ve had the ability to be on both because most don’t get a chance to. The ability to wake up everyday, and do what we want is amazing though.
Has the Internet helped you or hurt you while independent?
Together: It helps everyone. It’s hurting the music business for selling CDs, and is hurting the major labels. Back when Napster came out it killed the game for every artist in every genre, but artists have learned to adapt to the new landscape. The dinosaurs ie the majors had to die for us to flourish. And the next generation with the evolution of music is how things are going. First it was Napster, then it was iTunes, and now it’s about Spotify. There’s always a new threat. But the threat is also opening up more opportunities.
Do you think it’s easier to do things how you love while still making music with money as an independent?
Together: We’re making more money as an independent than I was with Atlantic Records. Our royalties are much better. On Atlantic we had to borrow money. Now we’re making money. We define our company and craft. Make out money directly. The music we make is still everywhere. And we get paid more each time.
What do you want people to get from this album? What should they walk away with?
Fish Scales:They should walk away with there is diversity in Nappy Roots. We are alented individually and collectively. We have chemistry still but it’s different points of views. This is the point of view from skinny and scales. It’s honestly my favorite project of ours to date.
Skinny DeVille: I want people to walk away saying, man these guys are rapping. That this shit it banging, and I want to hear it again. I want the songs to capture certain moods you have, and this be the theme songs for those. This album will resonate with our fans a lot. People will see these guys are really not giving up.